Electron videography of a lipid–protein tango

John W. Smith, Lauren N. Carnevale, Aditi Das, Qian Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biological phenomena, from enzymatic catalysis to synaptic transmission, originate in the structural transformations of biomolecules and biomolecular assemblies in liquid water. Нowever, directly imaging these nanoscopic dynamics without probes or labels has been a fundamental methodological challenge. Нere, we developed an approach for “electron videography”—combining liquid phase electron microscopy with molecular modeling—with which we filmed the nanoscale structural fluctuations of individual, suspended, and unlabeled membrane protein nanodiscs in liquid. Systematic comparisons with biochemical data and simulation indicate the graphene encapsulation involved can afford sufficiently reduced effects of the illuminating electron beam for these observations to yield quantitative fingerprints of nanoscale lipid–protein interactions. Our results suggest that lipid–protein interactions delineate dynamically modified membrane domains across unexpectedly long ranges. Moreover, they contribute to the molecular mechanics of the nanodisc as a whole in a manner specific to the protein within. Overall, this work illustrates an experimental approach to film, quantify, and understand biomolecular dynamics at the nanometer scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereadk0217
Pages (from-to)eadk0217
JournalScience Advances
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 19 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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